Corona plea unlikely to prosper


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The Senate will have to hold a trial to hear both sides, says counsel

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is not likely to grant the plea of Chief Justice Renato Corona for an outright dismissal of the impeachment complaint filed against him. A trial will have to be held first, the impeachment court spokesperson said on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011.

Valentina Cruz, Senate legal counsel, told reporters that senator-judges will decide on the impeachment case against Corona only after the defense and prosecution have presented their respective pieces of evidence in a trial.
She was reacting to questions about the reply submitted by Corona on Monday asking the Senate for an “outright dismissal” of the impeachment complaint filed by the House of Represenatives against him.
“In this instance, since the Chief Justice is defending himself, it is…natural that he will pray for the dismissal of the complaint. But it doesn’t mean the Senate will act upon it just like that because the Senate has to conduct the trial,” Cruz said.
Corona said in his reply that the impeachment complaint against him should be dismissed because the charges are bereft of merit, adding that his impeachment was driven largely by the Liberal Party, the political party of President Benigno Aquino III.
But Cruz said the Senate could not decide Corona’s fate based on his answer alone. “They cannot definitely…because the statements and the answer are mere allegations so they have to be proven in the course of the trial, ” she said. “When you file an answer you’re supposed to state what your arguments are but that is not yet the evidence, Cruz explained. “The evidence has to be presented during the trial.”
Corona’s answer was transmitted to the lower House on Tuesday. The prosecutors have five days to send their reply, or until Jan.2, 2012. Cruz said both parties could file pleadings up until Jan.16, when the prosecution and the defense are expected to make their opening statements.

Cruz also described how the trial is expected to proceed. According to the rules of the impeachment trial, senator-judges have 2 minutes each to ask witnesses, and 10 minutes to argue over motions presented by either side, although these could be extended.

The Senate President, as the presiding officer, could rule on motions made by either party or refer them to the body instead. If there is an objection to the ruling of the Senate President, the senators would have to make a vote on the motion. – Rappler.com

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